In late June our family traveled to Colorado for a week away. For the longest time I struggled with the question of if we should even go or not. Over a year ago we found and paid for our rental home for this trip. At that time we could have never imagined that we would both lose Isaac AND be dealing with a worldwide pandemic when we should be vacationing. Despite the heaviness that I felt, we decided that we would go ahead with the trip. We were staying in a home that was remote, on a mountain. Our typical vacations include meals at home and sightseeing/hiking…so social distancing didn’t seem like it would be too hard. And our kids look forward to these times away every year…we needed this as a family.

I will be honest though, I probably had the hardest time being there in Colorado. It was a place that Isaac was so excited to travel to. He had emailed me last July asking for the specific dates of our trip because he wanted to make sure he was the first person to request the time off at work. He joked that he may go out there and never come home. Isaac loved hiking and climbing. The mountains seemed to be a place that brought him peace.

So with every moment that was good and joyous and happy, I also felt the weight of the reality that Isaac should have been there with us. I suppose in some ways it will always feel that way. But, I am grateful that we are feeling and experiencing joy at all. I remember early on wondering if I would ever smile again and mean it. It felt so impossible. God has been so gracious to us. We absolutely had those moments of immense sadness but God has allowed us so many more moments of happiness too. He is good that way isn’t He?!

The  views at our rental were incredible. I took pictures of the sunsets every night. God’s beauty on display at every turn. I think in moments like this, when you see the full splendor of God painted across the sky, it feels like a gift. Like a reminder that in spite of all of the hard and painful things we have had to walk through…He can still make it beautiful. Every single night we were there I got that reminder. He is making ALL things new. Beauty from ashes.

I shared some pictures on my FB page and wrote this:

Dominic and I decided to hike to the top of the mountain we were staying on. It was called Scar Mountain. Fitting I guess. There were tons of butterflies at the top of that peak, dancing and swirling around. Isaac really would have loved it up there. I felt like in many ways he was with us. It wasn’t the same and honestly it won’t ever feel right to have him not with us. But I was grateful for that time and that place.

I had really high expectations for this vacation. I was hoping for a real sense of peace and healing and quite frankly I felt more anxious and sad than I had expected.

 

I had some trusted friends praying for us over this week and one of them checked in with me at one point and said something so profound. She said this trip may be like a transition for us. She likened it to having an interim pastor. Often those seasons can be hard and challenging, even painful, but also necessary to move on to the next step.

 

This trip was exactly that. It was beautiful and messy, sad and joyful, filled with moments of the wonder of God’s creation and also quiet moments where I once again whispered “why God, why my son?”

 

God was present. He gave me a vision (and pictures!) for the cover and possibly a title of a book that maybe someday He will help me write. If it happens, it will only be because of Him….we will see, still too soon to think about now.

 

This trip wasn’t like I expected, but I am glad we did it. It was good to get away, safely and remotely, to a new place. To see the beauty of God’s world and continue to be challenged to put my trust in Him.

This vacation was another hard “first” without our son. In a few days it will be 7 months. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime already and other moments I can still hear his quirky voice. If you were at the funeral or heard me speak at the Never So Broken conference last fall you may remember that the song “Scars” by I Am They had become an anthem for me. I suppose it is no surprise that our first vacation without Isaac would be to Scar Mountain. My prayer continues to be that this pain will draw me closer to God and possibly (hopefully) encourage someone else to seek Him in a new way as well.

“Waking up to a new sunrise
Looking back from the other side
I can see now with open eyes
Darkest water and deepest pain
I wouldn’t trade it for anything
‘Cause my brokenness brought me to You
And these wounds are a story You’ll use” – Scars I Am They